Tags: Ken Cuccinelli

Ken Cuccinelli, in the Clear on Donor Gifts


The Democrats’ attacks on Virginia attorney general and GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli have focused more on “he’s a dangerous right-wing extremist/he’s a clone of Todd Akin” than on trying to tie Cuccinelli to Governor Bob McDonnell’s donor-gift scandal, but it was likely the opposition would begin beating that drum louder as Election Day approached.

But that avenue of criticism is largely shut down now:

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli solicited and initially neglected to disclose thousands of dollars in gifts from Jonnie Williams Sr. and troubled dietary supplement company Star Scientific, but broke no laws, a prosecutor’s report today says.

The investigation has also found no evidence that Cuccinelli, who also initially failed to disclose his ownership of more than $10,000 in Star Scientific stock, “in any way, promoted supported or assisted Star Scientific while he had a financial interest in the company.”

The findings, released this morning by the office of Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael N. Herring, are a significant political boost for Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor this year. The attorney general has been dogged by Democrats over his affiliation to Williams and his company — at the center of ongoing state and federal probes involving Gov. Bob McDonnell and the gifts received by his family.

The inquiry by Herring’s office, which also involved the Virginia State Police, found no evidence that Cuccinelli knowingly violated the State and Local Government Conflict of Interest Act.

As I reported last week, the Cuccinelli defense was twofold: that he himself had noticed his failure to initially report the gifts and reported it to state authorities, and that not only had he not done favors for his donors, but his office actually ruled against them the few times they had business before the state.

“I inadvertently didn’t report some things. I’m the one who went back and found them, and I’m the one who held a press conference and said, ‘hey, here are all my items.’ I missed four or five over the course of four years. That’s part of my commitment to transparency. When I make mistakes, I own up to them. Back in the Senate I supported budget transparency and other changes like that. That’s also a part of why I put out eight years of my tax returns, and I think my opponent ought to do that as well.”

(Cuccinelli also asked the Richmond Commonwealth Attorney to conduct an independent review of his disclosures.)

Cuccinelli feels like he’s got a pretty good defense. He doesn’t merely not do special favors for his donors; he’s something of an ingrate, because as attorney general, he’s actually made decisions and fought suits against them.

“Speaking for my office, the only thing [Jonnie R. Williams Sr. has] ever gotten out of my office is opposition to one lawsuit. So there’s been nothing in our office other than that one case where we came out and immediately opposed their position. . . . The perception is met best by facts, and the fact is that the one occasion that something came across the desk of the attorney general’s office responsibility, they were pushed back on, they were fought, without giving an inch.”

This was a 2011 Star Scientific lawsuit, challenging a sales-and-use tax assessment on tobacco-curing barns the company owns in Mecklenburg, Va.

“Hey, look at my biggest donor in the last ten years. What did they get for it? They got an electricity bill that will drag Dominion’s revenue down $700 or $800 million over the next twelve years. That’s what they’ve got for it. Virginians will continue to get that good policy, regardless of who’s supporting me or not.” He appears to be referring to this case, where the “Virginia Supreme Court affirmed a decision of the State Corporation Commission (SCC) regarding Dominion Virginia Power’s recently concluded base rate case. The court rejected the arguments advanced by Dominion, which would have allowed Dominion to earn a higher return on equity from customers than the SCC’s interpretation of Virginia law allows.” Cuccinelli and his office represented Dominion customers in the court fight.

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli

Cuccinelli: Voters’ First Focus Is Still Economic Anxieties


One of the key still-unclear factors in& this year’s Virginia governor’s race is just what mood the voters are in as Election Day approaches. Quinnipiac finds only 8 percent describe themselves as “very satisfied” with “the way things are going in Virginia today,” but 54 percent say they’re “somewhat satisfied.” Another 26 percent say they’re “somewhat dissatisifed” and 11 percent say they’re “very dissatisfied.”

Back in 2009, the top issue was clear — the lingering recession and economic fears — and Republican nominee McDonnell’s simple “Bob’s for Jobs” signs were ubiquitous all over the state. This year, two topics dominated coverage of state politics: a transporation deal that hiked taxes in Northern Virginia and troubling revelations of a wealthy Virginia businessman giving expensive gifts to current governor Bob McDonnell and his family.

However, Quinnipiac finds McDonnell’s approval rating . . . still pretty high — 46 percent approve, 37 percent disapprove. That’s down from a May split of 49 percent approval, 28 percent disapproval, but still not quite as bad as one might think after a month of brutal press coverage. (Also note the same survey finds President Obama slightly underwater in Virginia, with 46 percent approving and 51 percent disapproving.)

So how do Virginia voters feel about the economy? The state’s unemployment rate is relatively low, 5.3 percent. The state slipped slightly in CNBC’s annual survey of best states for business, but from third out of 50 states to fifth. McAuliffe’s economic message is that Virginia could be at the very top with more focus on spending in transporation and infrastructure and education.

Ken Cuccinelli, meanwhile, says his conversations with voters reveal a lot of not-so-obvious lingering economic anxiety.

“The priority is the same for voters, it’s still jobs and the economy,” Cuccinelli told me in a recent interview. “To the extent that we’re technically in a recovery, it’s a pretty weak recovery and it isn’t reaching everybody. Especially with the implementation of Obamacare, you’ve got small businesses that are frozen in place. Heck, our community colleges are pushing their adjunct professors down below 30 hours, and that’s happening in the private sector as well. That’s causing a lot of dislocation. Add to that furloughs and sequestration in the two most economically stable parts of the state, northern Virginia and southeastern Virginia, and you really get a decent amount of anxiety about the economy and job opportunities. So I still find that’s the first focus of voters.”

UPDATE: By the way, one Quinnipiac survey result may offer a key indicator of public cynicism, and why McDonnell’s numbers haven’t tumbled too far: Asked, “compared to most people in public life, do you think Bob McDonnell has more honesty and integrity, less honesty and integrity, or about the same,” 12 percent said “more,” 17 percent said “less,” and 60 percent said “about the same.”

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli , Terry McAuliffe , Bob McDonnell , Virginia

Why Ken Cuccinelli Can’t Wait to Debate Terry McAuliffe


Today’s Morning Jolt features a discussion of Eliot Spitzer’s mental state, whether the sequester counts as a “disaster,” and then this account from the campaign trail with Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli:

On the Pre-Debate Campaign Trail with Ken Cuccinelli

Ken Cuccinelli isn’t showing any sweat.

This is not to say he isn’t sweating; it’s just that he can hide it well as he walks through the Holly, Woods and Vines nursery and greenhouse in Alexandria, Virginia, in a light blue dress shirt, tie, and suit pants while in 80-degree heat with the region’s traditional wet-mop-to-the-face midsummer 88 percent humidity. I, meanwhile, have arrived straight from CNN’s studios in a dark wool suit and can feel my body rapidly dehydrating as Cuccinelli talks to Vanessa Wheeler, the owner and proprietor of the nursery, about the challenges facing small businesses like hers.

Photo credit: Jim. Pretty good for a writer, huh?

The half-dozen other members of the press in attendance aren’t interested in the shipping costs of begonias; the one big topic on their minds is the new revelation about additional gifts and donations from businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. to Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and his family. The latest news means Williams gave a grand total in $145,000 in gifts and loans to the McDonnell family in 2011 and 2012. With any more revelations, the scandal will stop being about a wealthy donor giving expensive gifts in a potential attempt to influence the governor and start being about a wealthy donor who vastly overpaid for alleged influence with a term-limited governor.

Cuccinelli characterizes the allegations against McDonnell as a distraction from what he wants to talk about and what he contends is preeminent in the minds of most Virginia voters, the economy and job creation. (While Virginia’s unemployment rate is relatively low, sequestration and other factors have clouded the jobs outlook in the state.)

NBC’s reporter asks Cuccinelli about his own failure to report gifts from Williams.

“I inadvertently didn’t report some things. I’m the one who went back and found them, and I’m the one who held a press conference and said, ‘hey, here are all my items.’ I missed four or five over the course of four years. That’s part of my commitment to transparency. When I make mistakes, I own up to them. Back in the Senate I supported budget transparency and other changes like that. That’s also a part of why I put out eight years of my tax returns, and I think my opponent ought to do that as well.”

(Cuccinelli also asked the Richmond Commonwealth Attorney to conduct an independent review of his disclosures.)

Cuccinelli feels like he’s got a pretty good defense. He doesn’t merely not do special favors for his donors; he’s something of an ingrate, because as attorney general, he’s actually made decisions and fought suits against them.

“Speaking for my office, the only thing [Jonnie R. Williams Sr. has] ever gotten out of my office is opposition to one lawsuit. So there’s been nothing in our office other than that one case where we came out and immediately opposed their position. . . . The perception is met best by facts, and the fact is that the one occasion that something came across the desk of the attorney general’s office responsibility, they were pushed back on, they were fought, without giving an inch.”

This was a 2011 Star Scientific lawsuit, challenging a sales-and-use tax assessment on tobacco-curing barns the company owns in Mecklenburg, Va.

“Hey, look at my biggest donor in the last ten years. What did they get for it? They got an electricity bill that will drag Dominion’s revenue down $700 or $800 million over the next twelve years. That’s what they’ve got for it. Virginians will continue to get that good policy, regardless of who’s supporting me or not.” He appears to be referring to this case, where the “Virginia Supreme Court affirmed a decision of the State Corporation Commission (SCC) regarding Dominion Virginia Power’s recently concluded base rate case. The court rejected the arguments advanced by Dominion, which would have allowed Dominion to earn a higher return on equity from customers than the SCC’s interpretation of Virginia law allows.” Cuccinelli and his office represented Dominion customers in the court fight.

Cuccinelli is nine days away from his first debate with rival Terry McAuliffe, and there’s a sense he and his team are itching to get the pair on stage, early and as often as possible. Cuccinelli’s campaign proposed 15 debates, with one in every major and minor media market in the state. McAuliffe has countered with five debates, and it sounds like negotiations for the details and rules of the remaining debates are proceeding slowly and with great frustration.

“It took, like, a tractor-trailer to drag him to the [Virginia] Bar [Association] debate,” Cuccinelli sighs during an interview on the ride over to the nursery. “They threatened to walk over one candidate-to-candidate question. So he asks me one, I ask him one. They were going to walk away from the debate for that.”

Why is Cuccinelli so eager to get out on the debate stage with McAuliffe, and so determined to get to ask his rival one question? Well, watch how Cuccinelli used his one question in a debate Steve Shannon back in the 2009 attorney general’s race.

Cuccinelli’s one question: “How many divisions are there in the attorney general’s office? And please name each one and explain briefly what each one does.”

Simple . . . as long as you’ve taken the time to familiarize yourself with the office you hope to win. Unfortunately, Steve Shannon didn’t do the reading.

Shannon responded . . . “So, I’ll talk about that in just a second, but let me go [back] to the 2004 budget real quick . . .” Cuccinelli teased him about not answering the question, but Shannon continued with an answer that meandered slightly more than the Mississippi River:

The first thing is that with the 2004 budget, we had proof that there were Virgina state troopers who were eligible for food stamps. And that budget allowed them to not be eligible for food stamps. We had sheriff’s deputies who were able to get a pay raise. That was important to public safety and important for higher education. We’ve now came to the point of the election cycle where we play a game of gotcha.’ Ken asks questions about the bureaucracy, and then I come back and say, ‘Well, Ken, last week you told a reporter that hitting a cop was a misdemeanor, not a felony.’ Or ‘Ken, are you familiar with the case of Commonwealth vs. Thomas, it’s a Court of Appeals case, very important to the criminal justice system.’ It’s about a prosecutor who went after a drug dealer in possession of firearms. Do you know what the holding in that case was? I know because I was the prosecutor in that case.

But you know what, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really doesn’t matter. Because what matters is that every four and a half minutes, another violent crime is being committed in Virginia. The reality is that presence of gangs is at its worst point since 2000. It’s not getting better, it’s getting worse.

[audience begins to chuckle at meandering answer] The reality is, you can laugh, but there are 357 pedophiles right now who are using computers in Virginia to trade child pornography. We know who these people are, we know how to get them, but we don’t devote sufficient resources to them.

But what does Ken want to talk about? He wants to talk about arcane questions. He wants to talk about details of the bureaucracy. You know what? The reality – the reality is that kids are being abused in Virginia right now, and if you want to focus on the bureaucracy you’re clearly going to vote for Ken. But if you want somebody who’s been a prosecutor, who’s going to go after those pedophiles, who’s going to go after those gang leaders, who’s going to go after drug dealers, who doesn’t need on-the-job experience, those are the people who I want to vote for me.”

I asked Cuccinelli, “Is it safe to assume that given the opportunity, you might ask about some of the specifics of Virginia governance, and that you may, perhaps, have some doubts about Terry McAuliffe’s familiarity with all that?”

For the first time in my presence, Cuccinelli really smiles. “Perhaps.”

Cuccinelli and his team expect McAuliffe to try to shift the debate to social issues, early and often.

McAuliffe and his campaign appear to believe that in order to win the governor’s race, they need Virginians to believe that his rival is really Todd Akin. Cuccinelli and his campaign appears to believe that in order to win, they need Virginians to believe that his rival is really Terry McAuliffe.

Finally, in news you can use, Holly, Woods and Vines features Biker Chick Garden Gnomes.

You’re welcome.

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli , Terry McAuliffe , Bob McDonnell

A Legitimate Need for a Reformer in Richmond


Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, whose term ends in January, is ending what once looked like a quite successful term with a terrible morass of ethics allegations, including disturbing reports of receiving expensive gifts from wealthy supporters and the use of the governor’s mansion for a campaign donor’s corporate event.

Gov. Bob McDonnell on Thursday refused to answer questions on whether he knew that an expensive Rolex watch he received from his wife was, in fact, a gift from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams Sr.

Following a radio appearance in Richmond, McDonnell was asked whether he realized that the $6,500 timepiece was a gift from Williams — a McDonnell mega-donor and friend whose dietary supplement, Anatabloc, has been promoted by first lady Maureen McDonnell on at least two occasions.

“I’m not going to comment any further on that,” he responded.

The governor did say that his wife did not work for Star Scientific, even as sources said she has received a number of checks from Williams, in addition to numerous expensive gifts that include thousands in designer clothing purchased during a New York City shopping spree in the spring of 2011.

The answers came during and after the governor’s appearance on WRVA. McDonnell, with barely six months left in office, finds himself entangled in three criminal investigations.

For an opposition party, this would normally be a golden opportunity, a chance to campaign in 2013 on the need to clean up Richmond and end a way-too-cozy relationship between elected officials and wealthy donors.

The problem is that the Democrats’ gubernatorial candidate, Terry McAuliffe, is pretty much the living embodiment of a way-too-cozy relationship between elected officials and wealthy donors.

Back in the mid-1990s, McAuliffe was more or less bragging about it:

His closeness to the first couple and the expanding network of political contacts he has built in the Clinton years have also enhanced an enterprise that Mr. McAuliffe has built more quietly: a web of business deals, from telecommunications to real estate, that the fund-raiser keeps far from the public spotlight. His business confederation, a veritable McAuliffe Inc., has generated tens of millions of dollars, but Mr. McAuliffe keeps his affairs so private that he does not even have a business listing in the Washington telephone directory.

His quietly acquired private fortune is illustrative of changes in the political culture here. Raising money for politicians was once a ticket to an ambassador’s post or other influential job in the government. Other presidential money men have hung shingles as lobbyists, openly trading on their access, or peddled influence as lawyers.

Charting a new course, Mr. McAuliffe has transformed the art of raising money for public figures into the art of raising money for himself, leveraging a personal fortune from his political fund-raising contacts.

Mr. McAuliffe lives in a Virginia suburb of Washington but calls a Florida house-building company his main business. And though he is chairman of the Florida company, he was unable to provide its address in a deposition this year. The aide who handles his frenetic schedule has been working out of Mr. McAuliffe’s obscure title insurance company in Florida.

Although the capital is the central nervous system of both his fund-raising and business dealings, Mr. McAuliffe does not have his own Washington office, so when he is in town he often conducts business at restaurants like the Palm and the Oval Room. In lengthy interviews at both restaurants he shed some light on his private deal-making and its symbiotic relationship with his political fund-raising.

”I’ve met all of my business contacts through politics. It’s all interrelated,” he said. When he meets a new business contact, he went on, ”then I raise money from them.”

Among those political contact/business contacts was the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. That organization gave McAuliffe a deal that is unbelievable . . . in the sense that you cannot believe that there wasn’t some other angle that went undisclosed to the public:

In the late 1990s, some of McAuliffe’s business ventures came under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, which filed suit against two labor-union officials, both of them with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers pension fund, for entering into questionable business arrangements with McAuliffe. Both officials later agreed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties for their actions, and the union itself had to reimburse its pension fund by nearly $5 million.

In one deal, McAuliffe and the fund officials created a partnership to buy a large block of commercial real estate in Florida. McAuliffe put up $100 for the purchase, while the pension fund put up $39 million. Yet McAuliffe got a 50-percent interest in the deal; he eventually walked away with $2.45 million from his original $100 investment. In another instance, the pension fund loaned McAuliffe more than $6 million for a real-estate development, only to find that McAuliffe was unable to make payments for nearly five years. In the end, the pension fund lost some of its money, McAuliffe moved on to his next deal, and fund officials found themselves facing the Labor Department’s questions…

On October 16, 2001, Jack Moore and another official named in the suit agreed to pay six-figure penalties for their role in the McAuliffe ventures, and the electrical workers union was forced to reimburse the pension fund for its officers’ failure to act “with the care, skill, prudence, and diligence . . . that a prudent person acting in a like capacity and familiar with such matters would use.” McAuliffe was not charged with any wrongdoing; his $2.45 million payday, while a violation of common-sense norms of business propriety, did not break any laws.

Just the guy Virginians should entrust the public treasury too, huh?

Tags: Bob McDonnell , Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli

McAuliffe Exaggerates Business Accomplishments; Sun Rises in East


Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign for governor in Virginia thinks they’ve caught their rival, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, exaggerating his business accomplishments again:

Did Terry McAuliffe Inflate Claims About His Home-Building Company’s Productivity?
In a speech to Loudoun County Democrats on June 1, 2013, Terry McAuliffe claimed that he “built 6,000 homes” during his tenure at American Heritage Homes.
“I’ve been in real estate; I’ve built 6,000 homes.” [Terry McAuliffe, Remarks to Loudoun County Democrats, 6/1/3013]
McAuliffe’s official LinkedIn page echoes the 6,000 homes claim.
“Within 5 years, McAuliffe and his team successfully built the company into one of the largest and most successful home building companies. During his tenure as chairman, AHH built over 6,000 homes and created thousands of jobs in the construction business.” [“Terry McAuliffe,”]
During his 2009 campaign, McAuliffe touted a different — yet still inflated — figure.
“McAuliffe then claimed that his home-building company built 1,300 homes at its peak, but an adviser later clarified that figure was closer to 800” [Amy Gardner, “McAuliffe's Background Could Prove A Liability,” Washington Post, 5/3/09]
McAuliffe was Chairman of American Heritage Homes for five years, from 1996 to 2001.
“Chairman, American Heritage Homes, 1996-2001.” [“Terry McAuliffe,”]
“Terry McAuliffe also served as Chairman of American Heritage Homes — which he acquired when it was a struggling home building company on the verge of bankruptcy.” [“Terry McAuliffe,”]
Data from on Florida property records in counties where AHH operated, cross-referenced with deeds in which AHH was listed as the grantor indicate between 4,378 and 5,341 homes were built under McAuliffe’s leadership, depending on the exact dates of his tenure.

Voters may figure 4,400 to 5,400 is close enough to 6,000. However, this is something of a pattern for McAuliffe, and some of his past exaggerations have been considerably bigger:

McAuliffe’s tendency to exaggerate his successes adds to that perception. Describing the apartments he purchased with the union fund, McAuliffe said he “went through every apartment myself, like 1,600 of them, to make sure the toilets worked” — but then added: “Well, I didn’t go through 1,600. But I went through every property exhaustively. Sure I did! I owned them!”
McAuliffe then claimed that his home-building company built 1,300 homes at its peak, but an adviser later clarified that the figure was closer to 800. And at a candidates’ forum in December, in response to Moran’s claim to be the only candidate who had run a business and raised a family in Virginia, McAuliffe boasted of launching five businesses in Virginia.
It turned out that all five are investment partnerships, with no employees, registered to his home address in McLean.

Apparently Terry McAuliffe is just not a details guy.

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli

Treasury to Cuccinelli: Oh, Fine, Here’s the Money We Owe Virginia


Ken Cuccinelli speaks, and the federal bureaucracy actually moves, for once:

After eight months of waiting, the Department of the Treasury on Wednesday agreed to release in excess of $100 million owed to Virginia for its role as lead investigator in a $1.5 billion court-approved Medicaid Fraud settlement with Abbott Pharmaceuticals.

Officials in the office of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said the office expects to receive $115 million of the $125 million it says it is owed from the settlement.

Confirmation of the release of the money came in a letter sent by the Executive Office for Asset Forfeiture to Deputy Virginia Attorney General John Childrey late Wednesday.

It followed a press briefing in Richmond earlier in the day in which Cuccinelli blasted the Internal Revenue Service for failing to complete paperwork necessary to release the funds following the final court order issued in the case in October, 2012.

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli , Department of the Treasury

Feds Just Happen to Withold $125 Million in Cuccinelli Settlement


Virginia’s attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, won a giant $125 million settlement prosecuting Medicaid fraud . . . and yet for some reason, the U.S. Department of the Treasury is mysteriously delaying the transfer of the settlement to the state government.

Why, it’s almost as if a giant, politicized and partisan federal bureaucracy wants to deny the GOP candidate for governor something to brag about.

Eight months after a federal court approved a $1.5 billion Medicaid fraud settlement — the second largest in U.S. history — federal officials have yet to release any of the roughly $125 million owed to Virginia for being the lead investigator.
The Abbott Pharmaceuticals illegal marketing case was investigated for five years by the nationally known Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in the office of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Officials have told the office that the Internal Revenue Service has refused to properly fill out post-case paperwork for almost a year, which is holding up the disbursement intended for Virginia law enforcement.
But the delay, which state officials say is unprecedented, has Cuccinelli wondering whether the problem is more about politics than completing paperwork.
“For a long time we thought it was glaring incompetence,” Cuccinelli said in an interview. “But in light of the last month or two, we’re now beginning to wonder whether maybe there are more deliberate motives.”
It was a reference to the recent scandal and congressional testimony stemming from reports of the IRS targeting conservative non-profit groups for investigation.
Cuccinelli, a conservative Republican and Tea Party darling running for governor this year, has been a chief antagonist of the federal government — being the first attorney general to file suit challenging President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act and also fighting EPA regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.
“I have to openly wonder whether this is an intentional act to deny Virginia its asset forfeiture money,” Cuccinelli said.
The $1.5 billion resolution included a criminal fine and forfeiture totaling $700 million — a $500 million fine to the federal government and roughly $200 million in criminal asset-forfeiture penalties. There were also civil settlements with the federal government and the states totaling $800 million.
The $125 million reflects Virginia’s share of roughly $200 million in asset forfeiture funds owed to the state and local law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation of Abbott, which settled a case that it illegally marketed the prescription drug Depakote for non-approved uses.
Abbott paid the full amount of its settlement to the U.S. Treasury Department last October, but officials have since refused to release Virginia’s portion of the settlement.

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli , U.S. Treasury Department , IRS Abuses

Ken Cuccinelli Ad Spotlights Slain Police-Officer Friend


Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign is releasing a new ad that focuses upon his response to the shooting death of Fairfax County Police Department officer Michael Garbarino.

Cuccinelli’s campaign stated that the candidate and Garbarino were “longtime friends,” living in the same neighborhood in Fairfax; in 2005, Cuccinelli, then a state senator, did a ride-along in Garabino’s car. Cuccinelli consulted with the officer on legislation that dealt with law enforcement.

In 2006, a mentally ill teenager stole his parents’ foot locker and removed two high-powered rifles, five handguns, and 300 rounds of ammunition; he proceeded to the Fairfax Police’s Sully police station and began firing. He fatally shot Detective Vicky O. Armel, 40, and Garbarino, 53, before being shot dead by other officers.

Cuccinelli handled the civil suits for the families, ultimately winning each family $300,000 in damages:

Their spouses sued [the teenager’s parents] Brian and Margaret Kennedy for negligence and wrongful death, claiming the parents should not have allowed their weapons to be accessible to a son with mental illness and a history of violence. Three days before the shooting, Michael Kennedy had seen a mental health therapist, one of many he had visited in the previous year. He had allegedly committed a carjacking and shot the family dog in recent months.

Brian Kennedy was prosecuted by federal authorities for criminal gun violations related to the case, pleaded guilty and was sentenced last year to 40 months in prison, which he is serving.

The civil suit was defended by Liberty Mutual Insurance, which provided homeowners insurance for the Kennedys. The policy had a maximum $300,000 of personal liability for “each occurrence” at the home. Liberty Mutual argued that Michael Kennedy’s taking of the guns was a single occurrence and asked the Fairfax Circuit Court to limit the case to one event. Cuccinelli argued that two people were killed and so two events occurred. Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Marcus D. Williams ruled in favor of the Armel and Garbarino families in April.

Liberty Mutual at first moved to appeal the judge’s ruling but then withdrew the claim in July and moved toward settlement. Then another hurdle arose in the case.

Fairfax County’s attorneys filed liens on both lawsuits in July, saying the county was entitled to recover medical costs and death benefits it had paid. The county said it had paid Garbarino or his family $287,375 and Armel’s family $284,431. The liens, if enforced, would have taken nearly all the $300,000 available from the Liberty Mutual policy.

Cuccinelli approached the Fairfax Board of Supervisors in August and asked whether the county would consider waiving the lien. “They were pretty accommodating,” Cuccinelli said. “I just had to present the case to them. They were not very reluctant.”

The liens were formally waived in court last month, and Liberty Mutual paid each family at the end of September, court records show.

The ad is undoubtedly an effort to emphasize Cuccinelli’s compassionate side early in what is likely to be a thoroughly negative campaign.

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli

The Vast Conspiracy Within Terry McAuliffe’s Mind


Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s campaign looks at the results of the Virginia state GOP convention and sees an opportunity; they feel that they can portray lieutenant-governor nominee E. W. Jackson, the Harvard Law graduate, Baptist minister, law professor, and former Marine, as an unhinged, know-nothing radical, and use him to drag down the Republican candidate for governor, Ken Cuccinelli.

Virginia Republicans, however, note that if the McAuliffe campaign wants to make this race about who’s made the more outlandish statement or who has views further from the mainstream, they’re fine with that. They have the option of pointing to any one of McAuliffe’s views, including . . . 

There’s always a conspiracy around every corner, huh?

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , E.W. Jackson , Ken Cuccinelli

Cuccinelli: ‘The Powerful & Well Connected Already Get Their Breaks’


Virginia’s Republican candidate for governor, Ken Cuccinelli, is up on the air with his second television ad:

Is it just me, or does the background music sound a lot like an acoustic version of Green Day’s “21 Guns“?

The script:

I’m Ken Cuccinelli.

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy.

But they are being overtaxed and over regulated.

I’ve a plan to make Virginia an engine for job growth.

It starts with closing tax loopholes and putting an end to special interest giveaways.

We’ll use the savings to cut taxes for those who’ve earned it: job creating small businesses and middle class families.

The powerful and well connected already get their breaks.

As Governor, I’ll be on your side.

Gee, who do you think he’s alluding to in his reference to “the powerful and well connected”?

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli , Terry McAuliffe

The Fine Print of Today’s New Poll in Virginia


Okay, fine, NBC News/Marist poll, you can lead with the news that you find Democrat Terry McAuliffe ahead of Republican Ken Cuccinelli, 43 percent to 41 percent, among registered voters. Yes, it’s probably early to apply a likely-voter screen, as we just don’t know how well each campaign will energize its base voters. When Marist does apply the likely-voter screen, Cuccinelli leads, 45 percent to 42 percent.

But we probably ought to spotlight that 19 percent of registered-voter respondents say they have never voted in a gubernatorial election before.

Cuccinelli’s got a 51 percent approval rating for his performance as state attorney general, with 24 percent disapproval, among registered voters.

Asked about the impact of the sequester on themselves, the poll finds that 54 percent of registered voters say the sequester has had “not much at all” and 21 percent say “just some.”

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli

Cuccinelli Unveils an Economic Plan


Here is the short version of Ken Cuccinelli’s economic plan, unveiled today:

  • Reduce the individual income tax rate from 5.75 percent to 5 percent over four years;
  • Establish a Small Business Tax Relief Commission (to be launched in December 2013) with the following strategic goals:
    • Eliminate or reduce the harmful effects of the Business Professional Occupational License (BPOL) Tax, the Machine and Tool (M&T) Tax, and the Merchants Capital (MC) Tax, while maintaining local government revenue;
    • Reduce the Personal Income Tax and the Corporate Income Tax;
    • Identify and eliminate outdated exemptions and loopholes that promote crony capitalism;
    • Ensure state government growth does not exceed inflation plus population growth;
    • Reduce the corporate income tax from 6 percent to 4 percent

Cuccinelli unveiled his Economic Growth & Virginia Jobs Plan at SweetFrog Frozen Yogurt, a Richmond based frozen-yogurt shop established in 2009 and now franchised throughout the United States. SweetFrog makes community outreach and involvement a top priority. The plan can be found online here.

Virginia had been enjoying monthly tax revenue that exceeded its budgetary requirements for a while — but they’ve hit a rough patch recently:

For 22 months, from August 2010 until last May, every month but one brought revenues exceeding those collected in the same month the year before. Seven of them showed double-digit growth . . . Virginia’s revenue numbers are sputtering again in a recovery that’s never really caught fire. Six of the past 12 months have been downers; the worst was March’s 6.1 percent general revenue drop.

Defense cuts and federal worker furloughs could end up hitting the state’s income and sales tax revenue hard.

On the other hand, Virginia voters are in a pretty good mood at the moment. The state’s unemployment rate is only 5.3 percent, the tenth-lowest in the country. Incumbent GOP governor Bob McDonnell, who cannot run again, has an approval rating of 64 percent in the most recent Washington Post poll, and 52 percent think the state is headed in the right direction, while only 36 percent believe it’s on the “wrong track.” What’s more, 5 percent say the state’s economy is “excellent” while 56 percent say it’s “good.”

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli

Cuccinelli Airs First Television Ad


Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign for governor of Virginia will begin running its first television ad statewide starting Monday, April 29th. The Republican nominee has low name recognition even though he’s been state attorney general, so Cuccinelli’s wife introduces him to the commonwealth’s voters:

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli

How McAuliffe and Cuccinelli Are Spending Their Money So Far


According to quarterly reports filed by April 15 with the Virginia Public Access Project, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe has spent $761,895 on his gubernatorial bid so far.

The category where he has spent the most is “staff/political consultants,” at $481,077. After that is “TV/Radio,” at $75,033, and “Office Rent/Utilities,” at $55,586.

McAuliffe’s largest single expenditure is to the Internal Revenue Service, paying them $125,807. His second-largest was $75,033 to Shorr Johnson Magnus, a Democratic political-media firm based in Philadelphia, and his third-highest expenditure was $50,038 to “Paris Associates LP,” which appears to be an Arlington, Va., property manager.

His campaign’s smallest single expense is $4, spent at the Harris Teeter in Matthews, North Carolina.

So far, Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli has spent $568,659 on his gubernatorial bid. His highest expenditure is also “staff/political consultants,” at $219,715. Second-highest is “Mail/Printing/Postage,” at $114,676, and his third-highest is “fundraising,” at $88,029.

The Cuccinelli campaign’s largest single expenditure was $73,492 to The Printing Express; the second-largest was $40,000 to Advancing Strategies LLC, and the third-highest was to the U.S. Treasury.

On January 23, the Cuccinelli campaign paid $1 to the City of Richmond City Council.

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli , Campaign Spending

Who’s Relying on Out-of-State Donors in Virginia’s Race for Governor?


“He’s raising money from out of state!” has never quite been the devastating attack that campaigns seem to think it is. But in Virginia, there is at least some difference between the two major candidates in where their biggest donors reside.

The Virginia Public Access Project, which collects and organizes state-campaign finance data, allows you to sort the candidates’ donations by which zip code the donor lists as his residence.

So far this year, Republican Ken Cuccinelli has raised $4.3 million; Terry McAuliffe has raised $6.7 million.

Sixteen of Cuccinelli’s top 25 zip codes for fundraising are in Virginia. His top zip code is Washington, D.C., where the Republican Governors Association gave him $1 million on March 29.

His top 20 include Roanoke (two different zip codes), Bristol, Richmond (four different zip codes), McLean (two different zip does), Centreville, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Abingdon (two different zip codes), Herndon, Burke, and Clifton.

Only five of McAuliffe’s top 25 zip codes are in Virginia — three in McLean, one in Richmond, one in Norfolk. His top zip code is a familiar one, 90210, where billionaire Power Rangers producer Haim Saban gave him $250,000. His other top locales include New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Chappaqua, New York, where Bill Clinton donated $100,000 on March 22.

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli

Virginia GOP Readying Obama-Style Criticism of McAuliffe


I am reliably informed that Virginia’s GOP gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, will soon release his tax returns for the past eight years and call for his Democratic counterpart, Terry McAuliffe, to do the same.

In a mirror image of the attack against Mitt Romney last summer, Republicans in Virginia and Washington are ready to point to any delay as a sign that there’s something shady or scandalous in McAuliffe’s tax returns and personal finances. Republicans have a long list of quotes from David Axelrod, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former White House Press Secreary Robert Gibbs, and other Obama campaign officials demanding the release of Romney’s returns, with some comments insinuating or explicitly stating that failure to release the returns indicates criminal behavior.

McAuliffe may or may not release all those returns; as the Virginia Pilot notes, candidates for governor in this state typically don’t release tax return information partly because the state requires them to submit personal financial disclosure statements that are considered public records. And the returns may not reveal much in terms of wrongdoing, but two figures might be intriguing or cause indigestion for the McAuliffe campaign. First, just how wealthy is McAuliffe? Back in 2009, the disclosure forms revealed “a net worth of at least $5.8 million. But McAuliffe is likely worth considerably more because candidates in Virginia do not have to report the exact value of an investment that tops $250,000.”

Secondly, how much as McAuliffe made from his investment/role with GreenTech Automotive in the past four years?

Here’s the old quote to get the spotlight: last cycle’s head of the Democratic Governors Association:

Then DGA Chairman Martin O’Malley on Romney’s failure to release his tax returns: “His failure to release those is a bit of an implicit admission of…guilt…” (Zeke Miller, “O’Malley: McCain Saw Romney’s Tax Returns And He Chose Palin,” BuzzFeed, 7/13/2012)


Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli , Mitt Romney , Barack Obama , Tax Returns

Cuccinelli Slightly Ahead in Early Virginia Polling


The Virginia electorate doesn’t appear to be paying much attention to the early stages of the gubernatorial race. The candidates weren’t dominating the news, even before our news cycle became filled with horrific bombings, big votes on gun control, ricin mailings, exploding fertilizer plants, and so on.

Yet at some point, the voters will tune in, and they’ll see two candidates who they don’t know terribly well. So the candidate who gets his ads up on television first may end up setting the terms of the race. 

Republican Ken Cuccinelli leads Democrat Terry McAuliffe (34%-29%), but more than one-third (38%) of Virginians are undecided in the 2013 Gubernatorial election, according to The Roanoke College Poll. Looking only at currently registered voters, Cuccinelli’s lead grows slightly (35%-27%).

The Roanoke College Poll interviewed 629 Virginia residents between April 8 and April 14 and has a margin of error of +3.9 percent. 

As was the case in January, both candidates are largely unfamiliar to Virginians. A majority of Virginia residents do not know enough about McAuliffe (61%) to have an opinion about him, and 45 percent don’t have an opinion of Cuccinelli. Each figure is only one percent lower than in January. Cuccinelli has improved his favorable/unfavorable split marginally (26% – 24%), while McAuliffe remains the same (10% – 16%). 

Cuccinelli could paint a very negative portrait of McAuliffe, the GreenTech problems, the state’s concerns about the company, and so on… but he’ll need the resources to do it.

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli , Terry McAuliffe

No, Really, the Democrats Nominated McAuliffe for Governor.


Virginia Democrats, you’re now stuck with him: Terry McAuliffe is now certifiable — er, certified as the Democrats’ candidate for governor of Virginia.

Undoubtedly, McAuliffe brings some advantages to the race; as perhaps the single biggest fundraiser in Democratic-party history, he will probably raise somewhere between $10 million and ∞ for his campaign this year. With the New Jersey governor’s race not looking competitive, McAuliffe is the only Democrat running statewide this year with a shot, and as a result, he’ll get plenty of support from the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Governors Association, and Organizing for America. Oh, and he’s telling donors and potential supporters that helping him is “a way to get in on the ground floor of Hillary Clinton 2016.”

Pete Snyder, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, is already hitting Terry McAuliffe for his company GreenTech’s October 2009 decision to build a plant in Mississippi instead of Virginia. McAuliffe contended that the state of Virginia’s business recruitment agency wasn’t interested in helping the company. PolitiFact looked at the paperwork and rated that assertion false.

“It’s political garbage and double talk like this that made me get off the sidelines and get into the arena to change things,” Snyder says. (It says something about McAuliffe that even the GOP’s lieutenant gubernatorial candidates are citing him as the poster boy for what’s wrong with politics.)

Late last week, Politico reported that McAuliffe formally left GreenTech back in December, a comment McAuliffe didn’t mention even as he discussed the firm for the past few months, including quite recently.

Make no mistake, Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli will have a tough challenge ahead. But four months into his second bid for governor of Virginia, McAuliffe has surprisingly low name ID and a favorable rating of only 20 percent (Quinnipiac) or perhaps as low as 10 percent (Roanoke).

One good statewide ad campaign could define McAuliffe before this race even starts.

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli , Pete Snyder , Terry McAuliffe

Cuccinelli Foes Had Better Do Their Homework


Terry McAuliffe, the Democrats’ likely nominee for governor in Virginia this year, had better study up on the details of the governor’s office. Because this is probably not the last time someone is going to ask him questions to gauge his knowledge about state government.

Back in 2009, the GOP nominee for governor, Ken Cuccinelli, ran for state attorney general against Steve Shannon. Cuccinelli scored big points in a debate by stumping Shannon with a remarkably basic question: “How many divisions are there in the attorney general’s office? Please name each one and briefly explain what each one does.”

Shannon filibustered . . . and filibustered . . . and filibustered. He later dismissed it as “an arcane question, focusing on the bureaucracy.”

Free advice: If you’re running against Ken Cuccinelli, do your homework.

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli , John Sununu , Terry McAuliffe

No Independent Bid for Bill Bolling in Virginia


The road before Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign just got a little bit easier. Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling ended his flirtation with an independent bid for governor of Virginia this year:

However, after a great deal of consideration I have decided that I will not be an Independent candidate for Governor this year.  There were many factors that influenced my decision to forgo such a campaign.

First, I know how difficult Independent campaigns can be.  The biggest challenge an Independent candidate faces is fundraising.  You can have a winning message, but if you don’t have the resources to effectively communicate that message to voters you cannot win.  To run a winning campaign I would have needed to raise at least $10-$15M.  That’s a very difficult thing to do without the resources of a major political party and national donors at your disposal.  Based on my discussions with key donors over the past three weeks, I was confident I could raise enough money to run a competitive campaign, but I was not confident I could raise enough money to run a winning campaign. While it is possible that these resources could have been secured over time if the campaign progressed as we envisioned, that was an uncertain outcome and it was too big a risk for me to ask my donors to take.

Second, running as an Independent candidate would have required me to sever my longstanding relationship with the Republican Party.  While I am very concerned about the current direction of the Republican Party, I still have many dear friends in the Republican Party, people who have been incredibly supportive of me over the years.  I have tremendous respect for them and I am very grateful for everything they have done for me.  I value these friendships a great deal and I feel a deep sense of personal obligation to those who have done so much to make my success possible.  I have heard from many of these friends over the past several months.  They have encouraged me to not give up on the Republican Party and continue working to get our party back on a more mainstream course.  Maintaining their friendship and respect means more to me than the prospects of being Governor and I was unwilling to jeopardize these longstanding relationships by embarking on an Independent campaign.

Finally, my decision was heavily influenced by a growing dissatisfaction with the current political environment in Virginia.  Politics is much different today than it was when I was first elected.  In many ways I fear that the “Virginia way” of doing things is rapidly being replaced by the “Washington way” of doing things and that’s not good for Virginia.  As a result, the political process has become much more ideologically driven, hyper-partisan and mean spirited.  Rigid ideologies and personal political agendas are too often placed ahead of sound public policy and legitimate policy disagreements too quickly degenerate into unwarranted personal attacks.  This makes it more difficult to govern effectively and get things done.  While I still value public service a great deal, the truth is that I just don’t find the political process to be as enjoyable as I once did.  Because of this, I decided that the time has come for me to step away from elected office and look for other ways to serve Virginia.

Best to Bolling in his future endeavors, but permit this one question . . .

Is the political process meant to be enjoyable?

Tags: SCOTUS , Ken Cuccinelli , Terry McAuliffe


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